And Now: Gratuitous Green Jay Photos

In case you don't already feel the necessity to go to South Texas next year, I offer this. One of the highlights of visiting the Rio Grande Valley Bird Fest are all the green jays. They are so gorgeous and about as common as blue jays are for many of us.

Here, guide Richard Gibbons gives a young boy a recently banded green jay to be released. What a cool bird for a kid to get to see up close and even touch. That's a magic moment right there and that's where a kid will get "BIRDS ARE COOL!" burned into their brain.

Now that I look at this bird closer, it really matches the WingScapes logo. Just soak in that bird's color for a moment. I never get tired of watching them when I visit the area. What's fun is that there is a much more rare jay for the area called a brown jay (which I tried for and missed). Non Birding Bill thinks birders are nuts to try and go for the brown one and not just focus on the green one.

As cool looking as this bird is, keep in mind that it is a member for the jay family. And just like our boisterous blue jays, these colorful birds will eat eggs and nestlings of other bird species. I wonder if that's easier to tolerate when a bird is this strikingly gorgeous?

The banders were kind enough to offer to let me hold a green jay. I didn't quite do it right, I'm used to holding larger birds like pelicans and raptors, not tiny songbirds, but I still really appreciated holding something to unbelievably beautiful in my hands. I even got a life bite.

When I let the bird go, you could see all the bright yellow feathers under the wings and on the sides of the tail. Really, how colorful does a bird need to be? What a treat to see a living, breathing emerald with sapphire, onyx and gold accenting it?